Yesterday’s release of the Freeh Report investigating the actions of Penn State relating to Jerry Sandusky’s child abuse was greeted by predictably divisive voices. Some people are very upset by what they perceive to be an unbalanced power structure in Happy Valley that made it possible for such a potential coverup seem possible. Others—college football fans and PSU supporters/alumni—believe that the report goes a long way in exonerating Joe Paterno, showing that, if a coverup at all occurred, it was the work of the school’s athletic director, president, etc. Not Joe. These people are weirdos.
And they will likely buy Joe Posnanski’s forthcoming Paterno when it drops on August 21. I wrote about it a little bit in November of last year, and I’m pretty much sticking to that argument: if Posnanski chooses to write a defense of Paterno, he will lose some of his credibility (people already wince at him a little bit as it is). He tweeted last night about having aimed to write an “the most honest book” he could about Paterno. But it’s difficult to align that notion with his having written it before the Freeh Report, which contained some pretty damning information about Paterno and his colleagues at Penn State. If his book contains the how could Paterno know that Sandusky’s showering with a boy in 1998 was illicit since there was an investigation and no charges were filed and experts didn’t believe he fit the profile of a molester argument I’ve seen lately, then Posnanski should really brace for the worst possible reaction to all of this.
It might be unfair to expect that Posnanski is going to write something like that, but to a certain extent he made his own bed when he visited Penn State’s COMM 497G class about Joe Paterno and criticized those who came to Happy Valley to “bury Joe.” Though the circumstances here are probably unprecedented, it’s never a good idea for a biographer—working on the biography at the time—to stick his neck out and speak in favor of his subject; and that’s exactly what Posnanski did, jeopardizing his own credibility and causing many to—again, perhaps unfairly—anticipate a book that will regurgitate the pro-Joe arguments that have been coming down for some time.
But Posnanski hasn’t risen to the level he’s at by being conventional or impartial. He’s beloved by his readers for, in addition to being a great writer, an engaging and honest reporter who doesn’t follow sportswriting orthodoxy.
We won’t be reviewing Paterno. Mainly because, like, how do you do that? and Simon & Schuster is pretty much guaranteed to keep the galleys of that thing in some secret barn upstate.
We will be reviewing this week’s #fridayreads selection, however, in late August.
Jonathan Tropper’s One Last Thing Before I Go
It’s difficult getting a handle on Jonathan Tropper’s style. I didn’t read his breakout This is Where I Leave You because I was in college and stuff and who has the time or whatever. I’m not far into One Last Thing, but it moves along pleasantly, driven by its sharp dialogue. In that way, it reminds me of Joshua Ferris—or at least I think it does, like I said: I can’t really get a handle on his style. I know I like it, though, and I know this because the story of One Last Thing, at the broadest level, doesn’t seem all that interesting (divorced man kind of struggling along, gets sick, etc.), yet I’m pretty enthralled with what I’ve read so far. And excited to keep going.
Have a great weekend, everyone. Put down the Freeh Report for a bit, read something great. Or wait around until next week when we release our TOP FIVE BOOKS OF 2012 SO FAR BECAUSE IT’S ONLY BEEN SIX MONTHS, which is basically the biggest deal ever, and is regularly covered by The Economist and the Minot Daily News.